By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The long high school basketball season has come to a close in Cape May County as the Wildwood and Wildwood Catholic Academy high school girls basketball programs each lost deep in the state tournament Wednesday.
SHORE RALLIES TO BEAT LADY WARRIORS
South Jersey Group I champion Wildwood appeared in excellent position to make the program’s seventh appearance in the state title game.
A three-pointer by Macie McCracken gave the Lady Warriors their largest lead of the game at 24-11 early in the third quarter against Central Jersey champion Shore Regional.
But Shore, behind a breakout game from freshman Reese Fiore, went on a 27-11 run to overtake Wildwood and eventually posted a 53-48 win.
Wildwood’s season ended at 23-5.
Imene Fathi scored 16 points and McCracken added 15 points for Wildwood.
Fathi, a senior, finished her prolific career with 1,332 points.
Fiore, who entered the game averaging 5.8 points per game, finished with a career-high 18 for Shore (19-12), scoring 14 in the second half. Junior Rylee Drahos had a game-high 19 points for Shore.
Wildwood committed 26 turnovers in the game, 14 in the second half.
Wildwood’s South Jersey championship was the program’s 10th all-time and first since 2017.
CRUSADERS FALL TO POWERFUL RUTGERS PREP
It was a David versus Goliath matchup for Wildwood Catholic in the South Jersey Non-Public B final.
But, unlike the tale in the Bible, the heavily favored Goliath prevailed.
Competing against a team filled with Division I college signees and prospects, Wildwood Catholic struggled from the opening tip and lost, 67-36.
Rutgers Prep, which entered the game ranked No. 4 in the state, led 15-3 after the first quarter and 39-8 at halftime.
Sophomore Kaci Mikulski led Wildwood Catholic with 15 points. Senior Kimmy Casiello, in her final high school game, added nine despite playing one game after suffering a significant arm injury.
Katie Ledded, a 6-0 junior, scored 18 points for Rutgers Prep.
The Crusaders (23-6), who tied a program record for victories in a season, reached the South Jersey title game for the first time since 1998.